U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, voted for three new trade agreements Wednesday evening that will create thousands of American jobs and grow the economy, both locally and nationwide.
The agreements -- with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama -- will create new markets for American goods, create American-made jobs (especially in manufacturing and farming), and establish fair trade rules so Americans can compete and win on the international level.
"Northeastern Pennsylvania businesses and farms, and Pennsylvania businesses and farms in general, will benefit from these fair trade agreements because they will grow our exports and create new jobs. The president said these trade agreements will create more than 250,000 new jobs, and I agree with him. These agreements will level the playing field and increase American exports, so Pennsylvania workers and Pennsylvania farmers will be the big winners," Rep. Barletta said. "These trade agreements have been negotiated for five long years, so I am happy we are finally able to approve them, set fair trade rules, and get Pennsylvanians back to work."
The agreements remove trade barriers that put American exports at a disadvantage. They also phase out -- either immediately or over several years -- punitive tariffs that increase the price of American goods overseas.
"We not only have to "Buy American,' but we also have to "Sell American.' These agreements give American goods equal access to three growing markets, where consumers want to buy American products," Rep. Barletta said.
Rep. Barletta noted that, as these trade agreements languished, American companies have been losing market share in these three countries. For example, the United States was the top exporter to Korea just 10 years ago, with a 20-percent market share. Now, the United States is in third place, with a market share just under 10 percent. In Colombia, the U.S. market share of corn, wheat, and soy was at 71 percent in 2008; due to a Colombian agreement with Argentina, the U.S. market share in Colombia for those goods is now 27 percent.
"I was very skeptical because I don't support "free trade,' but I do support "fair trade.' These are fair trade deals that will benefit Northeastern Pennsylvania businesses and farms, so I am proud to support them," Rep. Barletta added.
All three trade agreements passed the House with bipartisan support.